NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New Yorkers were on edge Thursday after the city was hit with three slashing attacks and a stabbing within less than three days.
As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, multiple suspects were still on the loose Thursday night.
Nicole Fontanez was still trying to make sense Thursday night of the violent slashing that left her boyfriend – Bobby Barbot, 25 – with 137 stitches on his face.
“At the moment, he’s just trying to rest up and trying to heal,” Fontanez said.
“He just asked him to please leave,” Fontanez said. “It was just a nice way, and then the guy was like, ‘Oh, whatever,’ and he got rowdy and he said, ‘I’ll be back.’”
Police said the teen was kicked out for bothering customers — asking for money for a bogus basketball league. He came back minutes later and slashed Barboe in this vestibule, police said.
“He didn’t expect the guy to, you know, just slice him,” Fontanez said. “It just happened very quickly.”
And just blocks away on Thursday afternoon, there was another slashing. This time, the scene was in SoHo at Lafayette and Prince streets in front of Supreme, a popular skateboard and clothing store.
A long line of people waited to get in and shop when the 21-year-old victim was attacked. He had just finished up in the store when there was some kind of altercation — possibly an armed robbery or a quarrel about him cutting the line — when he was slashed, police said.
“It was like some controversy down here, and next thing, you see him walking down here and he has blood all over his face, and you can see that from the corner of his nose to almost his ear that his face was slashed open,” said witness Devin Harris.
And then on the Upper West Side Thursday, there was a third attack just after 5 p.m. – this time a stabbing.
The 33-year-old victim was walking along West 88th Street near Columbus Avenue when a male suspect pressed a sharp object to his back and demanded the contents of his pockets. The suspect then stabbed the victim in the upper back and ran off with his Kindle and headphones.
There was another incident earlier this week. A livery cab driver was cut Tuesday morning after getting into an argument with a passenger.
In all, there have now been more than 21 slashings since mid-December in the city.
Jaime Carcana is one of those victims. She was attacked on the morning of Jan. 15 outside her Lower East Side apartment building by a man who she believes was homeless.
“To this day I’m in fear if he’s released and he comes back here,” she told CBS2’s Dave Carlin. “What am I supposed to do?”
Tony Quinones, the suspect in that attack, is currently behind bars and will get a psychiatric evaluation. He is due back in court on March 2.
Following her attack, Carcana started a victim’s support Facebook page, with an online petition demanding tougher laws to protect the public from known mentally ill offenders.
Slashing victims have told CBS2 that they are concerned that their attackers will fall through the cracks and get back out on the streets.
Kari Bazemore was arrested for slashing two women, and has what cops call a known history of “mental illness.” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said Francis Salud, who allegedly slashed two people in separate attacks, has “a psychiatric history.” And prosecutors said Damon Knowles, arrested for slashing a 71-year-old woman, has a “history of domestic violence.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio told CBS2 that the city is doing “everything we can” to make sure attackers like these, and others, don’t commit the same offenses.
“When it comes to anyone who has a mental health problem — that we know about — and also history of violence, we are tracking those individuals,” the mayor said. “In the past, that was not done. Too many people had a mental problem that was documented, and a violence problem that was documented, and somehow left on the streets without treatment or a law-enforcement follow up.”
De Blasio is promising less red tape, so victims learn not only when their attackers are released but that the city is actually keeping tabs on them.
“We are going to take with each case a follow-up plan for each person to make sure they’re getting the mental health treatment they need or the criminal justice system,” the mayor told CBS2.
Despite the nearly 20 percent jump in slashings and stabbings, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the streets of New York are “safer than ever.”
Carcana said victims and the public can only be sure the plan is working when slashings go down.